Toggle is a term used to describe switching back and forth between two states, such as in video chat when a person toggles their camera back and forth between the landscape view and the portrait view. It also describes the physical action of toggling a knob or switch to turn an appliance on and off. Toggles are a common user interface control and they can be effective when used well.
Toggles enforce a mutually exclusive state—on or off—and they help users determine the current state of a function by providing visual cues that make it clear what to press. However, when not used properly, toggles can be a confusing user interface element.
A key to successful toggle design is the use of proper color contrast. Contrast is important because it allows users to perceive the active and inactive options quickly and correctly. Additionally, utilizing color can have societal and cultural implications, which is why it’s crucial to consider the impact of your design on all audiences when choosing colors for your toggles.
Another important consideration for toggles is the use of clear, concise, and direct labels that describe what will happen when the toggle is pressed. This will help users understand what to expect when interacting with the toggle, avoiding any confusion. For example, using “Download” as the label for a download button can confuse users as to what will occur when the toggle is pressed—a simple change of wording (i.e., using “Download now”) would help eliminate this possible confusion.